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ON THE SUBJECT OF READING

I developed my interest in narrative through my interest in reading. I think there is still a lot of merit in the notion of an author, a writer, an individual who can conjure up a narrative that leads us to an understanding—however subtle, subconscious, or overwhelming—that we did not have before reading their words.

Designers and artists are good at seeing, at looking, at interpreting the world through shape, type and form. Writers do this through words.

So I guess in short, I still believe in the creation of mediated experience through words, and also in reading those words.

I have to thank Sven Birkerts for very clearly and passionately explicating my thoughts and emotions on this subject. I agree with him nearly fundamentally. In particular I really believe that the act of reading—its slow, meditative pace—undertaking over a length of time is fundamental to the experience of narrative in book form.

To clarify. One does not “read? when being told a narrative. Such an oral communication is a different art and a different experience. I think the same holds true with cinema. One does not read film. It is akin to an oral narrative—one experiences it and thinks about it subconsciously at the time, and consciously later.

Books and texts, on the other hand, are an active creation between the words (the writer) and the reader translating them. But it is not merely the reader turning symbolic markings into verbiage, it is the reader turning words into visuals in their mind. It is the reader effortlessly matching someone else’s words with their personal experiences, melding the two and creating a world unlike no other—tailored and meaningful to the reader, but structured and formed by the writer. According to Birkerts, “Reading is fundamentally an agent of self-making?. And how can someone make themselves if the experience does not last long enough, or cut deep enough to make an impact?

It is the “deep? and durational time in this world that elucidates a narrative (see all the importances above) and really allows an individual to experience them on a significantly deep and meaningful level. One that cannot (yet) be matched by any other medium.